Posts Tagged ‘adventure’

Are You Afraid of the Dark? The Tale of Orpheo’s Curse Review

Are You Afraid of the Dark? The Tale of Orpheo's Curse

Are You Afraid of the Dark? The Tale of Orpheo's Curse Boxart

Developer: Viacom New Media
Publisher: Viacom New Media
Platform: PC – DOS, Macintosh

Are You Afraid of the Dark? was one show on Nickelodeon that both enticed and frightened me during its run. Until recently I’d never realized any games existed for the series. Yet, a lone point and click adventure was released! Are You Afraid of the Dark? The Tale of Orpheo’s Curse places you in the shoes of the newest storyteller hoping to join the Midnight Society. Depending on how you “tell” the tale determines whether they let you in or not.

It’s actually a really cool framing for a digital episode of the show. Of course, you can only tell “The Tale of Orpheo’s Curse” but it changes depending how you play. Screw up and the other kids become excited or disappointed over the turn of events and give you hints on how to get things back on track. Of course, this framing is at the sidelines and most of your time is spent with the stars of this story: Terry and Alex.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? The Tale of Orpheo's Curse

These two siblings have somehow found themselves at Orpheo’s Palace – a run down theater which used to show magic performances. Of course, somehow they get in and discover that Orpheo is apparently alive and well and wants to use them in his sinister trick. As you explore you’ll discover hidden rooms, a variety of different, but mostly simplistic puzzles, and a surprising amount of danger. With that said, as a game targeted to Nickelodeon’s audience it’s not tremendously challenging.

What impressed me most about The Tale of Orpheo’s Curse was not its mix of FMV and CG animation (as that was suddenly quite hip at the time) but simply how user-friendly it is. Whenever you lose the game offers an immediate return to where you had just been. In fact, if you complete it in one sitting you’d never have to save once. This surprising convenience helped lessen the pain of a final chase sequence and other little flubs. If you like Are You Afraid of the Dark? or even just the early era of 3D adventure games then definitely find a copy of Are You Afraid of the Dark? The Tale of Orpheo’s Curse.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Pathologic Review

Pathologic Featured

Pathologic Boxart

Developer: Ice-Pick Lodge
Publisher: Ice-Pick Lodge
Platform: PC – GOG*

Pathologic is one of the strangest games I have ever played. This isn’t due to the content, which is entirely understandable, but because its ability to shift from extremely good to annoyingly difficult in the span of playing for a few hours. This is a game that has earned a lot of acclaim over the years – enough to warrant a Kickstarter-funded remake! Even after finally playing it myself it’s hard to distill my complex reaction into a simple “I love/hate it” response.

Certainly, there’s a lot to love about Pathologic. The game allows you to play as one of three characters (third unlocked after a playthrough) entering into a slowly dying town. A plague has swept the area which leaves no one safe – not even you – from its grip. Visually, the world already looks dead with its desaturated browns, blacks, and greys. You hope to help people survive but that’s a massive task to accomplish.

It’s hard enough to save yourself. This is a survival game in the truest sense where you must think three steps ahead for what you need. Food, medicine, and the like are necessities and not just health boosts. If you can’t buy them you can always attempt to barter with townsfolk… or steal their stuff right out of their homes. There’s not a hyper obvious “good/bad” pathway, but characters will react with hostility, fear, or kindness based off what people are saying about you.

Pathologic Featured

The biggest problem with Pathologic is that it does so much to dissuade you from falling deeper into its world. First, the translation is pretty rough which means an English-speaker simply can’t get the full understanding of what’s going on (and may even be confused). The larger issue is the high barrier to entry for surviving in the game very long at all. Then there’s the combat which is primarily a test of patience than skill.

Despite these issues, Pathologic creates one stunning experience. It was far more innovative in 2005 than many games are today. Its experimentation may not have worked out perfectly, but it’s still a game worth playing. Here’s hoping the remake will fix the original issues without destroying its spirit!


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Personal Nightmare Review

Personal Nightmare Featured

Personal Nightmare Boxart

Developer: Horrorsoft
Publisher: Horrorsoft
Platform: PC – Amiga, Atari ST, DOS, GOG*

Personal Nightmare is a great name for a horror game. And heck, there are definitely some horrifying moments in the title. However, this 1989 horror title is steeped with so much antiquated adventure gaming conventions that it is extremely hard to come back to today. It seems this is the case with most of Horrorsoft/Adventure Soft’s catalog (see Waxworks).

The best aspect of Personal Nightmare are the graphics. Pixel art has moved away from the “painterly” style that became prominent before 3D graphics took over so this all looks very refreshing. In particular, death scenes (which you’ll come across frequently) are super grisly. Rooms look distinct as well-meaning you won’t get lost in a maze of samey-looking sections. Of course, the map itself is huge meaning you can still get lost for other reasons.

Personal Nightmare Featured

This game uses a parser-based system with some graphical elements. A list of verbs is always present on the right side of the screen. Clicking on one helps fill out the text parser, although you can just as easily type out a full command by hand. Thankfully the inventory has a fully graphical representation although it has a max capacity. Weirdly, your briefcase within inventory provides a secondary inventory which is massive. So, start stuffing objects in there, although this might mess you up on later puzzles.

Speaking of puzzles, they’re where Personal Nightmare gets everything wrong. Not only are you required to carefully inspect every item, but many require inspection before a certain time. Time plays an integral role in the game meaning you can miss a necessary item thanks to dawdling. It’s unforgivable puzzle design as far as I’m concerned because only the most hardened adventure fans will give that a pass. Combine that with some finicky inventory management as well as clunky controls and it just becomes a huge annoyance. Personal Nightmare  is aptly named, but for all the wrong reasons.


Score: 1

1 out of 5 alpacas


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Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers Review

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers Featured

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers Logo

Developer: Pinkerton Road Studio, Phoenix Online Studios
Publisher: Pinkerton Road Studio
Platform: PC – Direct, GOG*, Steam

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers arrived on PC back in 1993 courtesy of Sierra On-Line. It hit the scene as a more serious point and click adventure game than most. Although I never played it way back when, I did eventually play and adore it. Now, a (little late) 20th Anniversary Edition of Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers is out and leaves me feeling quite perplexed. Did this classic game truly need a remake?

As far as I’m concerned, the storyline is still as intriguing as it was back in the 90s. It stars Gabriel Knight, a writer with a trashy series as his best work. He runs a book store in New Orleans along with Grace Nakimura but even that endeavor flounders. This dull, cash-strapped life takes a turn when a series of “Voodoo Murders” occur. Do the crimes actually have any relation to Voodoo at all or is something else at play? As curious authors are apparently wont to do, Gabriel sticks his nose into the mystery and gets far more than he bargained for.

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Gabriel is definitely an odd protagonist. Early on he acts incredibly sleazy and is full of eye-rolling comments, especially when contrasted against excellent characters such as Grace. Thankfully, he loses most of his revolting nature once things get serious. This is important considering how much dialogue Sins of the Fathers has. There’s a ton. The vast majority is also voiced by a new cast. The most blessed change is Tim Curry’s awkward New Orleans accent finally being put to rest.

As for gameplay, much of the game remains the same as it ever was. This is still a point and click adventure with a hefty inventory and loads of puzzles. A robust hint feature proves to be the best change. Unfortunately, much of inventory management and item usage continues being problematic. For example, many items suggest players “take”, “look at”, and “operate” them even when some options are impossible. It is funny to hear the narrator chide Gabriel if he considers taking a gigantic object, but this will also prove annoying to modern adventure game players. It’s surprising item and inventory usage weren’t redesigned.

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Outside of new voice actors the biggest change comes from completely revamped visuals. Now things have a hand-drawn, painterly look instead of pixel art. Personally, I continue to adore the original Sins of the Fathers’ for its gorgeous aesthetic. I don’t feel that the new 3D models will stand up to the test of time, although backdrops and cutscenes look lovely. Despite the tweaks, one facet that remains between both versions is its intriguing tale which hooks players.

I don’t feel there was a need for this remake, but on the other hand, it serves as a way to introduce new players to the world of Gabriel Knight. If they won’t pick up an “ancient” PC game perhaps they’ll give this gussied-up version a go. All in all, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers is as good as it ever was even if nothing can quite ever replace the original.


Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Waxworks Review

Waxworks Featured

Waxworks Boxart

Developer: Horrorsoft
Publisher: Accolade, Adventure Soft
Platform: PC – Amiga, DOS, GOG*

The early 90s were a scary time for adventure game developers. Horrorsoft, who began with text parser games, created Waxworks as an attempt to bridge that gaming gap. Instead of being a dull adventure game it utilized dungeon-crawler elements to offer copious fights. Of course, it still maintained that classic adventure core by requiring players to lug a heft inventory around.

Unfortunately, the implementation of action elements in Waxworks leaves much to be desired. The game does start off creepily enough, at least. You enter into a wax museum after being ushered there by your Uncle. According to him there’s a curse on your family and your brother will be lost forever if it isn’t removed. Destroying said curse requires entering different wax exhibits which transport players to different planes of existence.

Waxworks Featured

It sounds fine until you realize that every ounce of gameplay is a pain. The adventure trope of clicking on and collecting everything is in full force. Alongside that are constant swarms of enemies to slow progress and chip away at the health meter. Then there are maze-like areas that are far more frustrating than they are fun (especially as more enemies spawn as you try to find a proper path). It’s terribly un-fun.

Waxworks does have some grotesquely detailed artwork and a suitably creepy soundtrack. Had gameplay actually passed muster such aspects would be icing on the cake. As is, these are the only high points most players are likely to find. Only the most determined of horror connoisseurs should seek out this game.


Score: 1

1 out of 5 alpacas


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A Golden Wake Review

A Golden Wake Featured

A Golden Wake Logo

Developer: Grundislav Games
Publisher: Wadjet Eye Games
Platform: PC – Direct, GOG*, Steam

The 1920s were a heck of a time – and one that is rarely covered in games. A Golden Wake pushes players into the midst of the era’s many facets by placing them into the shoes of Alfie Banks. Alfie’s just a young man trying to make it in the world. After being fired from his New York job, he heads to Florida where a real estate boom is taking place. There, he hopes to use his patented salesman skills to work toward wealth.

A Golden Wake is most certainly one unique point and click adventure game. As Alfie, you get to experience all the fun of being a real estate agent! Okay, that might sound weird, but the storyline and characters do make it all very interesting. Of course, it’s not long before Alfie’s life takes new pathways. The game spans multiple years from the 20s onward, meaning you’ll get to see a great many important historical events.

Something I didn’t realize while playing was that the whole game is in fact modeled loosely after real events and characters. Coral Gables, the city being created at the beginning, is a real place that still exists in Florida today. The characters, too, are mostly modeled after people of that time. Despite having no clue about all this I still was able to enjoy the storyline, characters, and understand what was going on.

A Golden Wake Featured

Puzzle-wise, A Golden Wake  is surprisingly easy (minus one or two puzzles). This is not a complaint! There’s nothing worse than being trapped in an adventure game when all you want is to see the story to its completion. With that said, there were some odd notes in the story progression. Alfie himself seems to have extreme personality changes. Granted, the storyline is supposed to span many years, but the progression of time doesn’t feel particularly obvious.

Taking an adventure game trek through the highs and lows of a bygone era was tremendously entertaining. A Golden Wake nails the atmosphere with its visuals, music, and architecture. I just wish it could have been longer than the four hours it took me to beat it. With a little more fleshing out it would have been even more memorable. Still, A Golden Wake should prove to be quite a pleasant surprise for the adventure gaming community.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Finding Teddy Review

Finding Teddy Featured

Finding Teddy Boxart

Developer: LookAtMyGames
Publisher: Plug In Digital
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS PC – DesuraSteam

When I started up Finding Teddy I really had no idea what to expect. It begins with a view of a young girl in her bedroom. While she’s sleeping a gigantic hairy spider limb reaches through her closet and steals her teddy bear. She wakes teddy bear-less and ponders for a moment before heading into her opened closet. From there, players are transported to some entirely different realm.

This simple introduction really excited me to sit down and play the game all the way through in one sitting. Of course, it’s a fairly short experience (one to three hours) but neat nonetheless. Finding Teddy is a point and click style adventure game with a couple of puzzle types. There are the standard item puzzles which require you to use a certain object with the right thing to make something happen. However, there are also puzzles related to repeating back songs in the right place.

Finding Teddy Featured

It’s the musical puzzles that help set this game apart mechanically from others. Each music note stands for one of the letters of the English alphabet (and even have similar shapes). Through music the player conveys words and ideas to the world’s inhabitants. This could mean you ask for “help” from one or tell another to “dig” a hole. I liked this concept and was sad to see how short the game is.

Most puzzles make a lot of sense just as long as you’re very aware of weird bits in the environment. Also make sure to use your fly and/or cat partners once they’re added to the team. Finding Teddy is a brief but very nice adventure game. It’s obviously optimized for touch devices (as you click on edges of the screen to move) but the PC release better showcases the pixel art. Basically, you’re in for a treat regardless of the platform you choose to play Finding Teddy on.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Bad Mojo Redux Review

Bad Mojo Featured

Bad Mojo Redux Boxart

Developer: Pulse Entertainment
Publisher: Acclaim Entertainment, Night Dive Studios
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam

Bad Mojo is one of those games that was deemed one of the last noteworthy adventure titles (before their more modern resurgence). Despite owning a copy of the re-release, Redux, near launch, it seemed too difficult and weird to get into. I’ve finally run through the unique experience and found it very much worth playing.

The game opens with a man who has apparently just committed a robbery or two and is about to leave town. His plans change completely when looking at a locket from his mother zaps him. After regaining consciousness, he finds himself within the body of a cockroach. From there, players must navigate the dangerous apartment rooms to solve puzzles and hopefully return to human form.

Exploring is a disgusting, interesting feat as you come across dead roach and rat bodies, bloodied half-prepared fish, and general yuckiness. It’s incredibly surprising to realize a form of this game launched in 1996 since the visuals are still as gross as ever. Puzzles involve looking everywhere and figuring out what exactly to walk over or push to cause a reaction. If you need help, other creatures will speak of hints in vague tones.

Bad Mojo Featured

Bad Mojo Redux is a visual upgrade to the original game and my GOG copy ran just fine on my Windows 7 64-bit computer. Buying via Steam or GOG nabs all Redux bonus videos (developer commentary, making of, hint videos), manual, soundtrack, and other goodies.

The acting in Bad Mojo is pretty hokey, but if you can get past that the experience is incredibly different from an adventure game standpoint. You might find the finale a bit tricky though, as I did. Save often! Performing different actions during a playthrough result in different endings. Although the endings might be hindered by the story and acting, crawling your way through is definitely enjoyable. Check Bad Mojo (Redux) out as long as you’re not the squeamish type.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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The Labyrinth of Time Review

The Labyrinth of Time Featured

The Labyrinth of Time Boxart

Developer: Terra Nova Development, The Wyrmkeep Entertainment Co.
Publisher: Electronic Arts, The Wyrmkeep Entertainment Co.
Platform: PC – Amiga CD32, DOS, GOG*

Thanks to increasingly powerful PCs in 1993, an entirely new genre (of sorts) was born. People may know them as Myst-likes; games where your goal is to explore expansive “3D” environments and solve puzzles. However, it appears The Labyrinth of Time arrived before Myst, so perhaps we should be calling everything The Labyrinth of Time-likes instead?

The game starts off in a depressing fashion as we hear the internal monologue of our protagonist. He speaks about the dull, horrid life they live day after day. However, on the commute home, something striking happens. Suddenly, they are no longer on their regular commuter train but in some complete alternate universe. They’ve been called upon by Daedalus to stop the vile King Minos before it takes control of time and space.

The Labyrinth of Time Featured

It’s obvious the story line is meant to be a big draw but it’s rather silly. Beyond that, you explore a variety of screens to collect items for use later. In keeping with the theme, areas are all given their own time and place. For example, one area is a western saloon while the other is a 1950’s restaurant. Visually, The Labyrinth of Time is gorgeous but that makes sense given the slide show nature of the graphics. Unfortunately, I found myself going around in circles because of it.

As someone who likes weird games, it’s hard to completely discount this one. I really like the art, themed areas, and general odd vibe throughout. However, playing it isn’t particularly fun. The Labyrinth of Time doesn’t stand up to the test of time but it’s a neat little reminder of when developers were willing to experiment.


Score: 1.5

1 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair Review

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Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PlayStation Vita

What was supposed to be a peaceful school trip for Hope’s Peak Academy to beautiful Jabberwock Island has suddenly been corrupted by despair. The snarky and evil Monokuma is back causing havoc, and things quickly take a turn for the worse.

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